The Thanksgiving weekend holiday is always a scary time for high school administrators. It’s a time that we traditionally spend with our families. College students return home and want to get together with their friends who are still in high school. And because it is a family holiday (many experts say more so than Christmas, Memorial Day, or Labor Day) it is easier for many parents to close their eyes to underage drinking.
Many years of research show that the number one deterrent to underage drinking is parental disapproval. “If my dad found out I’d be grounded for the rest of my life,” can be a life saver to our sons and daughters. Yet many parents, using the excuse of “keeping the kids safe” will buy alcohol for a party, then tell everyone that they kept the keys so no one could drink and drive. In effect, they have just told their kids, and everyone else, that it is OK to disobey the law if it’s a special holiday. How do they say no the next time their student wants a special treat?
Parents, if you really want to keep the kids safe
1. make sure your students know where you stand on underage drinking.
2. wait up for them when they return home for the evening (that’s definitely better than waiting up all night in a hospital waiting room).
3. make sure you know where they’re going and who they’re going to be with.
4. touch base with the other parents (that prevents each one telling their parent they’re spending the night with someone else).
The students won’t like it. They may even say they hate you (remember the Terrible Two’s?). But you are their parent, not their friend. And as their parent, you must do what is in their best interests, not what makes them feel good at the moment.
So have a safe, happy, and chemically-free holiday. We want to see everyone next Monday.